By Paul Meade, Patient Engagement Lead
Mapping the Patient Journey
A vital step to improving patient engagement is defining and understanding the patient journey. While there are many tools that researchers, life sciences companies, and providers can use to document a person’s healthcare experience, patient journey mapping may be the most insightful. Let’s take a look at the process of patient journey mapping, and these can be utilized to improve health outcomes and patient satisfaction.
A Major Step-Up From Satisfaction Surveys
For many years, healthcare providers would send their patients a satisfaction survey and that would be the extent of their patient engagement research. Fast forward to 2021, leading healthcare organizations routinely perform patient journey mapping to ascertain what patients are actually going through, and how this experience could be improved. Compared to patient flow mapping, which gathers data from providers, patient journey information comes directly from patients.
This form of research is complex and involves different elements beyond what started the journey and what happened during that journey. While a patient flow map is a screenshot of what happens to a patient as they move through the healthcare system, a journey map is much more expansive. A journey map details what events happen to make the patient seek medical care in the first place, what happened when they were interacting with healthcare workers, and what occurred when they returned home.
Documenting and Improving the Emotional Journey
In addition to documenting what a patient goes through clinically, it’s vitally important to keep track of their emotional journey and get an idea of how this can be improved. If a patient is suffering from a chronic disease, they might think they’re never going to get better and this can put them into depression or a negative frame of mind. According to many studies, there is an indisputable link between having an optimistic outlook and achieving a positive health outcome. Regardless of the caliber of care, we know that patients who are in a negative frame of mind don’t recover as well as those who are thinking positively.
Because of this dynamic, it’s important to focus on understanding and improving the unique emotional journey that each patient has during their road to recovery. By interviewing patients and documenting the emotions they’re feeling at each stage in their treatment, providers and life sciences companies can identify the points where additional comfort is needed. The better that providers can understand this tough experience their patients are going through, the better they can care for both their physical and emotional needs.
The future of healthcare is not merely about more science, machines, and knowledge; at its core, healthcare is a true partnership between the patient and provider. Whether you’re a provider or life sciences company, looking at patients more holistically and humanistically is essential to creating patient-centered treatments and standards of care that will improve health outcomes. Contact Thought Leader Select to learn more about our patient engagement solutions.